26 March 2010

Intro & Index to "Where Are We Now?"


I have recently written a summary of some of the things I have learned in this series. Please take a moment to read that article, then come back and leave me a comment here or on the interviews that interested you. I would like to keep this conversation going, even though the series will soon end. Thank you.


50.Ron Reed, artistic director of Pacific Theatre

49. Bruce Herman, painter

Carl Sprague, film & theatre art director/designer

47. Greg Wolfe, editor of Image

46. Jeanne Murray Walker, poet

45. Dana Gioia, poet & former NEA chairman

44. Stephen Burdman, artistic director of NY Classical Theatre

43. Jeffrey Overstreet, writer & film critic

42. Alissa Wilkinson, professor at The King's College, NYC

41. Larry Lipkis, composer

40. Andrew DeVries, sculptor

39. Catherine Taylor-Williams, actress

38. Victoria Bond, composer

37. Tania Runyan, poet

36. Ivan Moody, composer

35. Mia Chung, pianist

34. Jeremy Begbie, arts theologian

33. Doug Ovens, composer

32. Ned Balbo, poet

31. Paul Salerni, composer

30. Ellen McLaughlin, actress and playwright

29. Kevin Sprague, photographer and graphic designer

28. Ryan Jackson, painter

27. Barbara Crooker, poet

26. Noemia Marinho, artist

25. Michelle Gillett, poet

24. Sharon Barshinger, Director of Players of the Stage

23. Heather Thomas, poet

22. Silagh White, Director of ArtsLehigh

21. Kelly Cherry, writer

20. Anthony Lawton, actor

19. Erin Clare Hurley, Ed. Director of PA Shakespeare Festival

18. Matthew Whitney, painter

17. Rosie Perera, photographer

16. Diane Wittry, Music Director of Allentown Symphony

15. P. Tepper, American painter

14. Stan Badgett, muralist and writer

13. D. Audell Shelburne, professor, poet, and editor

12. Nicholas Friday, hip-hop artist and music producer

11. Sophia Ahmad, pianist and arts journalist

10. Paul Barnes, pianist

9. B. Gordon Van Patter, author, illustrator and presenter

8. Leah Maines, poet and publisher

7. Julie Ann Eggleston, pianist and music teacher

6. Charles McMahon, artistic director of Lantern Theatre

5. Nick Jarratt, performing arts major, pianist

4. Tammy Jarratt, graphic designer and art teacher

3. Chris Ugi, Director of MAFA

2. Vivian Doublestein, Executive Director of MAFA

1. Charles Kovich, mystery novelist

For many years, especially while teaching at the Master’s Academy of Fine Arts, I have pondered the reciprocal interactions that exist among historical events, the arts, and what might be called the philosophy or ideology of a time period. Each passing era has, in retrospect, some unifying sense of style, mood, purpose, or concept—especially in certain geographical locations—that can be isolated, studied, and described. Thus we can talk about the symmetry and harmony of the Classical Era, the intricate complexities of the Rococo, the rootless depression of the “Lost Generation,” the intentional synaesthesia of the Harlem Renaissance, and so on. These movements are sometimes conscious, sometimes more loosely constructed. They are usually intertwined with political and religious developments. It is fairly easy to study them from a chronological distance, assisted by historians, anthropologists, literary theorists, and the like. However, it is much more difficult to ascertain the tone of one’s own day. Could you say with confidence what techniques, topics, and theories inform the arts of the so-called Western world at this exact moment, and what those discrete observations add up to as a whole?

I would like to take the pulse of the moment: to discover, express, and discuss the current state of the arts in North America. I would like to ascertain the driving ideologies that inform the prevailing techniques in poetry, “high-brow” fiction, the visual arts, new musical compositions in the best classical tradition, and the synthetic arts such as dance and theatre.

While this sounds like a large and lofty project, I am approaching it via small steps: weekly interviews with artists or thinkers-about-the-arts, published on this blog every Monday. The interviewees will include religious and main-stream artists, as well as people who think about the arts and culture, even if they do not make art themselves. There will be poets, fiction writers, non-fiction writers, musicians, composers, visual artists, actors, conductors, students in college art departments, teachers, professors, department heads, and chairpersons of arts organizations.

In each interview, I ask these people what techniques, topics, and theories inform their own work (or the arts they study) and that of their genre(s) as a whole. I ask them to comment on the current state of the arts and sometimes see if they have thought about present and potential world-movements, such as postmodernism, the looming “post-human” phase, and possible artistic effects of the Eastward orientation of economics and culture.

Each post in this series, then, gives one glimpse into the current state of the arts. The idea is that the cumulative effect of these individual snapshots will be a collage or palimpsest that captures the artistic moment. Since I hope to interview both religious and non-religious people (and, indeed, the point is not to take the pulse of the church’s arts, but of the main stream arts in order to encourage Christian artists to respond), the result should be a broad survey of the general mood, tenor, or tone of the times, supported by specific examples. Inevitably, we will also ponder “How did we get here?” and “Where are we going?”

1 comment:

Mehitchcock said...

I feel right now our age is primarily one of naming.
I feel that somehow someone got an awful lot of credit for naming ages and now there is a mad rush to name and an inordinate amount of focus spent on then analysing these names.
I feel that this rush towards defining an identity is analagous to the human phase that we experience in our adolescence.
Both in the arts and in human development, we as a civilization have been sickeningly devoted to adolescent ideas and focused on adolescent goals.
There is nothing wrong with a teenaged adolexcent, but the longer this developmental phase is clinged to, the sadder it becomes.
This must end, this will end, and I am doing my part personally and artistically to end it.
Then we can be adults, and worry more about building our homes than about naming our clubhouse.
I look forward to your interviews. I believe I will see evidence of this cultural maturation.
Good project.